Ideally, we’re all part of the human race. We all have equal possibilities in the world based on our abilities and desire. We all have an equal playing field. But realistically, this isn’t a perfect world, and there is a need for groups that ultimately strengthen individual potential and create more successful, confident business people.
These aren’t exclusive groups -- they are special interest groups. No one says that men aren’t allowed, there are no “girl power” chants, and they don’t have topics like, “Male Bashing 101” or “Outsmarting Your Male Boss”. When these groups host speakers, the topics relate to strengthening themselves intellectually, physically, and emotionally with ideas that make them more confident and balanced. No supportive boss, employee, or husband can argue that improving the outlooks for women isn’t beneficial. Life is a team sport. When you strengthen one member of the team, the entire team wins.
Women’s groups improve confidence and self-esteem. Self-esteem is a critical failure component for businesswomen. Even though studies show that women in general have sharper problem-solving and multi-tasking capabilities, the high occurrence of poor self-esteem in women keeps them from reaching their potential at every level from asking for the dollar amount they are worth to seeking out advancement. Women’s groups welcome dialogue that acknowledges those issues and provides solutions.
Women more readily share and celebrate small victories in both personal and professional areas in female-only environments. In a world where there may be too few supportive bosses, and where fathers, husbands, and children don’t understand how much women need their support, small victories shared in an intimate gathering of women are the spark that ignites hope in their hearts. The little victories are the chances to celebrate someone’s success — even yours!
Relationships help even the playing field. When people get an opportunity to know others better, they find peer mentors, role models, and friends. It doesn’t matter how much education you have, what race you are, or your marital status — relationships are the gateway to realizing what is possible in our own lives when we see people just like us tackling similar hurdles. Women’s groups create a place that is comforting and helpful to women while they expand their circle of friends and influence to all people.
Networking isn’t just about promoting your business — it’s about building relationships. Most people want value, quality, great service, and respect from businesses they patronize. Women judge those qualities critically and will openly promote businesses who provide them, regardless of whether they are owned by a man or a woman.
Some women are too intimidated by co-ed networking environments to participate. They experience a paralyzing fear of the unknown or have memories of unpleasant experiences. Making some friends in the security of women’s networking groups gives them the courage to venture out into co-ed networking gatherings where they know a few familiar faces — again expanding the circle and helping to build confidence in others.
Societal issues continue to restrict the potential for many women. Women naturally tend to put the needs of their families ahead of professional advancement. Women are also more likely to have experienced home situations where they are taught that they have limited options or aren’t as capable as men. These societal issues can affect the determination that it takes to advance professionally. Women can draw hope from other women who encourage them and share their stories. Women’s groups provide the opportunity for women to gather and create a safe place so that they might share their story to those who will be blessed by hearing it.
When you examine the
scope of these issues and benefits, it’s easy to understand that women’s groups cultivate stubborn determination and hope. When you combine those two components in a group (like the WPN) that also provides education to advance professional growth, you have potential — amazing potential. Women’s groups are about giving their members a reason to believe when they run out of reasons. Who wouldn’t want that for their mom, daughter, wife, coworker, employee, or boss?
Carrie Perrien Smith is the owner of Soar with Eagles (www.soarhigher.com), a performance consulting company located in Rogers, Arkansas
Edited by Lea Bishop, WPN Women’s Professional Network